Credit card interest rates stay at 14.87 percent
|CreditCards.com's Weekly Rate Report|
|Avg. APR||Last week||6 months ago|
|Methodology: The national average credit card APR is comprised of 100 of the most popular credit cards in the country, including cards from dozens of leading U.S. issuers and representing every card category listed above. (Introductory, or teaser, rates are not included in the calculation.)|
|Updated: March 04, 2015|
Average rates on new card offers held steady Wednesday at 14.87 percent, according to the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report.
Most issuers left interest rates alone this week. Pentagon Federal Credit Union introduced a range of APRs to the PenFed Platinum Cash Rewards card, making it more likely that cardholders with imperfect credit will be able to qualify for the card. However, the change didn't affect the national average because the card's lowest available rate of 9.99 percent was left unchanged. CreditCards.com considers only a card's minimum rate when calculating average interest rates.
Cardholders who apply for the Platinum Cash Rewards card are now offered an APR ranging from 9.99 percent to 17.99 percent.
Meanwhile, U.S. Bank narrowed the range of possible APRs on the Visa Platinum card by lowering the card's maximum rate from 23.99 percent to 20.99 percent. Cardholders with the best credit are offered rates starting at 9.99 percent.
Consumers continue to pocket gas savings
According to research from the Commerce Department, consumer spending fell in January for the second month in a row as consumers spent less money on gas and other purchases. Meanwhile, the household savings rate rose to 5.5 percent -- its highest level since 2012.
This is the second month when consumers have opted to keep a substantial portion of the extra cash they saved on cheaper gas and, according to research released by Gallup, consumers' ongoing frugality could put a damper on first quarter economic growth.
According to Gallup, consumers spent slightly more in February than they did in January. Compared to the previous year, consumer spending on nonessential purchases declined from an average of $87 per day to approximately $82 per day.
Last month's dip in spending compared to a year ago partially reflects lower gas prices since Gallup's daily spending survey takes into account gas station purchases. It also shows consumers are still reluctant to spend heavily on other nonessential purchases, such as restaurant outings and new clothes.
According to Gallup's Rebecca Riffkin, February's lag in spending may be due to colder weather across much of the United States rather than a decreased willingness to spend.
"Last year, a Harvard Business Review study found that consumers are less likely to spend money when it's cold," wrote Riffkin in a news release. "And the Midwest, Northeast and Southern U.S. experienced colder-than-normal weather for much of February."
Meanwhile, other economic indicators show consumers are more confident in the economy and less cautious about debt. For example, credit card spending has picked up considerably despite weaker spending overall, according to multiple reports. In the fourth quarter of 2014, card balances expanded by 5 percent, year-over-year, according to the credit rating agency TransUnion. That's the most credit card balances have grown since 2008.
That could mean that once the weather warms up, consumer spending will rebound significantly as more confident consumers shake off the winter weather and return to shopping in stores.
See related: Fed: December credit card balances up 7.9 percent
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